Garak slices the seal on the first crate open, sets the knife aside and pulls back the lid. Bashir peers over his shoulder, flapping his hands excitedly. The tailor unloads bolts of cloth onto his work table, unrolling the first few feet to check the quality and checking each off in the inventory on his PADD. When he pulls out a bolt of slate blue Triaxian silk and spreads it over the table Bashir can contain himself no longer and reaches to run the back of his hand along the smooth shimmering fabric.
“Careful please my dear, it’s delicate.” Garak cautions.
Julian isn’t listening; he’s enthralled by the feel of the silk against his skin. He squeezes a fistful in his hand and lifts it to his face, dragging the lustrous material down his cheek.
“I’ve been waiting months for this shipment, dear.” Garak bustles over from where he’s been rummaging in a crate. “It’s the first I’ve been able to secure since my return to Cardassia and you’re going to ruin this before I can sell it.” He prises Bashir’s fingers open and retrieves the silk.
“It’s nice though.” Bashir pouts.
“Look, you’ve creased it.” Garak admonishes, smoothing the crumpled corner of silk with his hand. He looks up, taking in the Human’s crestfallen expression. “Let’s see what else there is shall we, hmm?” He takes Bashir’s hand and leads him back to the crates.
“Terran tweed.” Garak lifts out several bolts and props them against the wall. “Help me carry them, would you?”
Bashir runs his hand down a bolt and shudders. “It’s scratchy.” He observes.
“It has excellent insulating properties,” Garak explains, “Which is why Cardassians favour it for nightwear. I’ve a backlog of orders for tweed pyjamas from various customers.”
Garak lifts an armful of bolts onto the table and unrolls one. He takes Bashir’s hand and places it on the green herringbone-patterned fabric. “Feel how the weave is very close?” He asks, dragging Julian’s fingers along the rough cloth. Bashir nods. “It traps a layer of warm air against the skin and the thickness makes it waterproof.”
“Doesn’t it itch?” Bashir asks.
“Not really. Cardassian skin is less sensitive than Human.”
“Your pyjamas tickle me in bed, you know.”
“Oh. I’m sorry. If it’s annoying I’ll—.”
Bashir cuts him off with a kiss to his cheek. “I like it actually. Sometimes when you’re away and I wish you were back, I rub them on my face and the prickly sensation reminds me of you. It’s soothing and it helps me miss you a bit less.”
“Really?” Garak turns to his Human companion. “I suppose I can be somewhat prickly like tweed on occasion.” He smiles his beguiling smile and kisses his dear Doctor’s lips.
“Mmm.” Bashir hums contentedly as the pull apart.
“Let me finish checking this.” Garak turns back to the table, picking up his PADD. Bashir steps back to give him space to work.
“Do you remember those weighted pyjamas you made when we were on DS9?” Bashir asks.
“Indeed I do. Blue striped linen... I spent hours sewing little pockets on the inside so you could add or remove weights depending on how much pressure you wanted. I really undercharged you.”
“I had some of my best nights’ sleep wearing them.” Bashir recalls, rummaging in a shipping crate. “It was like being hugged tight all night.” He sighs at the memory, unfolding a length of red chiffon and holding it up to examine it. “If I’d just asked you to hug me all night, you wouldn’t have had to bother with the pockets.”
Garak turns to see Bashir has draped the chiffon over his head and is grinning impishly at him.
“You look like a Bajoran Kai.” Garak approaches to retrieve the fabric before Bashir can irredeemably crease it.
Bashir flips the chiffon off his head and over Garak’s shoulders, pulling on the ends to draw the tailor close.
“You really are a pest.” Garak murmurs, lips millimetres from Bashir’s.
“I am,” Bashir leans back, smiling coyly, “But you love it.”
“Hmm.” Garak scowls in mock annoyance. He kisses the Human, who giggles and presses his tongue between Garak’s lips. “You’re insufferable.” Garak grumbles.
“And yet you still find me endearing.” Bashir smirks.
“If I cut you some of that Triaxian silk to play with, will you stay out my way until I’m finished?” Garak asks, pushing the Doctor’s shoulders gently with his palms, guiding the man backwards toward a chair.
“I suppose I could, since you ask so nicely.” Bashir releases the chiffon and strokes the Cardassian’s cheek affectionately as he sits.
Garak takes the chiffon, re-folding it as he turns back to his work table. He clears the tweed onto the floor and unrolls the bolt of silk. With sharp scissors he cuts a long strip, including the corner Bashir creased earlier and hands it to the Human. “Now let me concentrate dear?” He pleads.
“Alright.” Bashir grins, scrunching the fabric in his fist. He brings it to his face and takes a deep breath, savouring the smell of dye and the faint fishy odour of natural silk. Rubbing the cloth contentedly against his cheek, he jiggles his leg to quell the urge to get up and stroke the Inkarian wool Garak is examining on the table.